The Beny Steinmetz Group
30 October 2013
The judicial authorities of six countries, including Switzerland, have been investigating the case since 2013. Following requests for legal assistance from the United States and Guinea, in August 2013, Geneva’s public prosecutor launched an investigation into allegations of bribery of foreign officials. Geneva also hosts the control centre of a convoluted network of offshore companies. Investigations are underway into allegations that bribes were paid to one of the wives of the former president of Guinea in order to obtain licences for the high-value iron ore deposits at Simandou – for which Steinmetz paid a mere US$165 million in 2009. The next year the Brazilian mining giant Vale bought 51% of the shares of the company that owned the licences for US$2.5 billion. That money should have gone to Guinea’s government coffers.
The BSG case shows the urgent need for payment transparency in the natural resources sector. It is also a textbook case study in how tax havens are systematically used to conceal illegal activities in developing countries with poor governance and regulatory systems. To put a stop to these affairs, Swiss commercial registers need to publicly state the ownership and beneficiaries of corporate entities.
- Press release: Corruption in Guinea, investigation in Geneva: the Steinmetz Group under pressure (22.10.2013)
- Organisational chart of the Steinmetz Group put together by Public Eye (formerly the Berne Declaration)